French Expression of the Day: N’importe quoi!

If you are ever involved in an argument in France, and the chances are you will be, you are going to need this expression.

French Expression of the Day: N'importe quoi!
Image: Deposit photos

Why do I need to know this expression?

It's a great phrase to use if you are involved in an argument with someone in France. In fact if your language level is limited and you don't agree with the person you are arguing with you could just about get away with repeating n'importe quoi over and over  again. Until your opponent gives up and goes to bed.

But it also has other important meanings.

What does it mean?

Literally n'importe quoi means 'no matter what' and it's pronounced more like 'n'amporter kwah'.

But it has a few different uses that can be translated as 'anything', 'whatever', 'nonsense', 'rubbish' or even 'bullshit!'.

For example you could say je ferais n'importe quoi pour apprendre français, which would translate as 'I'd do anything to learn French'.

But when it comes to arguing or disagreeing with someone you would use n'importe quoi when you want to suggest what someone has said is a load of rubbish or nonsense.

For example if someone says Le Brexit est un bon idée you would be within you rights to say n'importe quoi or even tu dis n'importe quoi (you are talking nonsense) unless of course you think that Brexit is a good idea. 

It can also be translated in a few other ways with a similar meaning: Maintenant tu dis n'importe quoi – now you are just making things up or Evie tu dis n'importe quoi – 'Evie, you're just not making any sense'.

And if you really want to stress that what the other person has said is really bonkers you can say it slowly like n'im… port…e quoi!'

And you can also abbreviate it in speech and in text messages to just 'n'imp' in the right environment. Such as discussing last night's drunken antics you could say hier soir, j'ai fait n'imp, which could translate as 'last night I was a complete chump'.

It can also be used in response to what people have done as well as what they have said. For example you could say Theresa May vous faites n'importe quoi, meaning Theresa May 'you're doing it all wrong', or 'you're making a mess of it'. Unless you believe of course that she has played a blinder.

And you'll often hear parents saying something to their misbehaving children along the lines of arrete de faire n'importe quoi, which could translate as 'stop acting up' or 'stop messing around'.

Some other examples: 

1. Il mangera n'importe quoi – He will eat anything

2. Je peux ecrire sur n'importe quoi – I can write about anything

3. Les cochons peuvent voler –  Pigs can fly.

– N'importe quoi – Bullshit

4. Tu dis vraiment n'importe quoi – You are really talking crap

5 – Qu'est-ce que tu veux manger? – What do you want to eat?

– ça m'est egal, n'importe quoi – I'm easy, anything.


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French Expression of the Day: Chanter faux

This is definitely not lip synching.

French Expression of the Day: Chanter faux

Why do I need to know Chanter faux ?

Because if you were not blessed with a beautiful singing voice, then this might be a good phrase to know. 

What does it mean?

Chanter faux – pronounced shahn-tay foe – literally means to ‘fake sing.’ You might assume this expression would mean ‘lip sync’ in French, but its true meaning is to sing out of tune. (Lip synching is chanter en playback).

It joins a chorus of other French expressions about bad singing, like chanter comme une casserole (to sing like a saucepan) or chanter comme une seringue (to sing like a siren).  

Chanter faux is actually the most correct way to describe someone being off key, so it might be a better option than comparing another’s voice to a cooking utensil. 

You might have seen this expression pop up recently amid the drought, as people call for rain dances and rain singing (where there is no shame in singing badly).

Use it like this

Pendant l’audition pour la pièce, Sarah a chanté faux. Malheureusement, elle n’a pas obtenu le rôle. – During her audition for the play, Sarah sang out of tune. Sadly, she did not get a role.

Si on fait un karaoké, tu verras comme je chante mal. Je chante vraiment faux, mais je m’en fiche. Il s’agit de s’amuser. – If we do karaoke you will see how badly I sing. I am really out of tune, but I don’t care. It’s all about having fun.